When Toronto FC takes the pitch at BMO Field Wednesday night, they’re expecting to enter an electrifying atmosphere that’ll help in their charge to secure a fourth straight Canadian Championship.
The Reds trail rivals Montreal Impact 1-0 heading into the latest edition of the 401 Derby after an excruciating opening leg at the Stade Saputo last week. When all was said and done, TFC were lucky to escape only down one after the opening 90’ after coach Greg Vanney elected to rest some of their starters in the midst of a congested schedule.
Toronto, with the majority of their first team in-tact, then returned to form by putting in another strong performance in the league against a first-place LAFC side — extending their unbeaten run in MLS to six games, even managing to get some of their regulars rest.
Update from #TFCLive training today: Benezet, Morrow and Gallardo all on the field. Morrow didn't travel to LA as a precaution but is fine. Gallardo is good too. Benezet may be good to go for Wednesday, but shouldn't be a doubt for Sunday in Chicago.— Gareth Wheeler (@GarethWheeler) September 24, 2019
Montreal, meanwhile, are going all-in on the Canadian Championship as it’s unlikely that the Impact will make the 2019 MLS Cup playoffs. In fact, Montreal coach Wilmer Cabrera elected to rest a lot of his crucial players against Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s L.A. Galaxy, which led to a 2-1 loss and helped Toronto FC clinch a playoff berth for the fourth time in five years.
The Impact will be without leading-scorer Saphir Taider, however, after the midfielder accumulated too many cautions with a yellow card in the opening leg.
No Piatti, Urruti, or Bojan for the Montreal Impact vs. LA Galaxy tonight— Waking the Red (@WakingtheRed) September 21, 2019
Should this change Greg Vanney's approach vs. LAFC?#TFCLive | #TORvLAFC https://t.co/l3HLMHa433
But all that is behind us now.
The only focus ahead is earning the accolade of being Canada’s best team and qualifying for a spot in the Concacaf Champions League. And if TFC are going to overcome their opening-leg deficit, they’ll need their best possible XI to do so.
PREDICTED STARTING XI
And that’s expected to be the case when the Reds take the field Wednesday evening at BMO, keeping in mind that at least three Canadians need to start the match. Defender Justin Morrow, who didn’t travel to L.A. Saturday night, is healthy and will likely be in the lineup. Erickson Gallardo should be fit enough to make an impact. And Nicolas Benezet, who has missed some time recently with a hip injury, may be healthy enough to make the bench.
It is important that the Reds don’t concede. If they do, a two-goal victory would be the only way that TFC capture this year’s Canadian Championship. With that in mind, here’s our predicted starting XI